The compact executive SUV class is crowded and competitive, but the BMW X3 manages to stand out. Where others disappoint, it exceeds expectations. It keeps the driver appeal BMW are renowned for, and delivers it as a practical, upmarket and compact SUV that meets modern demands.
What you need to know about the BMW X3
After the great success of the X5, BMW obviously downsized the SUV formula to create the X3 – and drivers will be pleased they did. While the driving experience of many 4x4s is lacking, the X3 boasts precise steering. It feels planted and composed around corners, largely helped by electronic suspension and damping options.
The optional variable damper control is particularly desirable, as it monitors your driving and will adjust the suspension firmness to suit. As such, the ride comfort improves dramatically, soaking up potholes and poor road surfaces and providing enough grip that’ll give you confidence on twisty roads.
All in all, we find the X3 a well-rounded car. It fulfils SUV duties, is comfortable and satisfies enthusiastic drivers who want a genuine BMW with added practicality.
What to watch out for
When it was first released, the X3 was one of the first mid-size SUVs to carry a premium badge. However, many people felt like it missed the mark somewhat. The cabin, quality of ride and lack of off-road ability were criticised. Although not everyone agreed, the second generation was a lot better received. Subtle changes to the design, cabin space, and the balance between ride and handling keep it competitive with an ever-increasing number of rivals.
- Jaguar F-Pace
- Mercedes GLA
- Audi Q5
Sandwiched between the X1 and X5, the X3 is a practical choice for many. It’s small and sporty, with all the great qualities of its larger sibling. Running costs have improved, and they hold their value well. As a result, everything stacks up for the X3.
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